Seed funding for new technology to tackle disease

Four cutting-edge biomedical projects have received seed funding from the University of New South Wales (UNSW)  to create technology-based solutions to address widespread health problems.


The Faculties of Medicine and Engineering at UNSW are investing up to $1.8 million on projects that engage clinicians in solving problems that will have a major impact on health issues such as sleep apnoea, keeping the elderly safe in their homes, improving medical image analysis and guiding radiotherapy treatments for cancer patients. This is the first time UNSW has offered this type of partnership to support funding for clinically led healthcare solutions that could be utilised by local area health districts.


Professor Lynne Bilston, from Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA) and UNSW Medicine in collaboration with researchers from the Graduate School of Biomedical Engineering, has received funding to develop a novel treatment device for obstructive sleep apnoea. “New treatments for sleep apnoea are urgently needed,” says Professor Bilston. “Many patients cannot tolerate the current clunky and uncomfortable ‘gold standard’ treatment, Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP). Other treatments are not effective for all patients.”


Sleep apnoea is an increasingly common sleep disorder that affects more than 9% of Australian adults. In sleep apnoea patients, the throat can collapse many times an hour, causing the patient to stop breathing repeatedly during the night. It results in excessive daytime sleepiness, increased risk of accidents, and cardiovascular disease. Professor Bilston says that by developing and testing a new device to stimulate the muscles around the throat, “we can prevent the collapse of the upper airway that occurs during sleep in sleep apnoea patients.”


The four biomedical seed fund projects include: 

A novel optical stimulation method for Obstructive Sleep Apnoea treatment, led by Professor Lynne Bilston from NeuRA and UNSW Medicine, and Scientia Prof Nigel Lovell from the Graduate School of Biomedical Engineering.

Smart home IT support for frail elderly people with early dementia who live alone, led by Professor Branko Celler from the School of Electrical Engineering, Scientia Prof Henry Brodaty from the Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing, A/Prof Stephen Redmond from the Graduate School of Biomedical Engineering and A/Prof Kim Delbaere from NeuRA.

Development of a modular medical image analysis application (MIAA), led by Professor Alec Welsh from the School of Women’s and Children’s Health and A/Prof Tracie Barber from the School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering,

Learning from and Improving target volume delineation in radiotherapy, led by A/Prof Lois Holloway, Ingham Institute, South Western Sydney Clinical School and Prof Arcot Sowmya from the School of Computer Science and Engineering.


The projects will be funded for three years.


For more information and interview opportunities contact:

NeuRA Media Department +61 2 9399 1037